Ash Wednesday



Every sin, in any meaning of the word, has two sides to it. On the one hand it is some kind of neglect of God’s love – whether a total rejection (and option for something else) as in mortal sin, or simply not expressing your gratitude enough in your daily life as in venial sin – on the other hand all sin involves an attachment to, even an addiction to other lesser good things, the things of this world. Forgiveness of sins deals with the first part – whether it is the miraculous grace of conversion and contrition by which we are turned back to God from mortal sin, or the grace of increasing charity by which we pull ourselves together after venial sin.

Forgiveness is what matters most of all; to be forgiven, to be contrite for mortal sin is the most tremendous thing that could happen to you in your life – so of course it is very easy. You so not have to work at being forgivien; you only have to accept it, to believe in the forgiveness of God in Christ, in his eternal unconditional love for you.

But sin, any sin, even venial sin, has given you a kind of addiction to lesser things, the things of this world, so besides being forgiven we need to break out of this addiction. For the only way to God is Christ; and Christ’s way to God was through crucifixion and death to the resurrection. There is no other way. The only way to God is through death. Christ did not die for us instead of us. He died to make it possible for us to die and rise again in him. And this is hard. We have to go through the crucifixion too. We can do it because God’s love for us makes it possible to die in Christ; but we have to do it. I have to go through the painful process of curing my addiction, kicking my habit, ‘drying out’ or ‘cold turkey’ or whatever.

Even the mediocre sinners need to begin to die, to practise the art of death by denying themselves, of taking up the cross and following Christ.

And that is what Lent is for. It reminds us that we come through death to life, through denial of self to our true selves, and it helps us to start the process – so that we may be ready for the final Easter when we rise in glory and freedom to live for eternity in the love of God.

Utdrag fra «Ash Wednesday» i God Matters

Herbert McCabe OP Blackfriars, Oxford 1926-2001

Herbert McCabe OP
Blackfriars, Oxford

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